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Saturday, December 01, 2007

CANDIDATE FATIGUE

BY MICHAEL LINN JONES

Courtesy ABC NEWS

When I first learned of the term "semantic fatigue" I brought myself to a level of mental fugue after repeating the same word over and over until it had no meaning. It had become just a sound, like "Blah blah blah blah blah, etc." Take any word and try it: you'll be left a little dizzy with the feeling that you've swallowed a pillow or something.

Or......you can follow the presidential go-kart race as closely as you can.

Having just finished David McCollough's TRUMAN, I was hit full-force by the inanities of this so-called race. In fact, in his later years Truman expressed a lot of skepticism about presidential primaries, and more importantly, the effect television would have on future races. Also, he observed that if the Democratic Party ever became the mouthpiece for millionaires only it would be a sad day.

And it IS depressing when you read about Harry Truman while aware of the current plethora of people wanting to be President of the United States. "To err is Truman" someone said during his presidency, and that was a fact. He made blunders, mistakes, you name it.....but overall he did very well. He had, like many people did then, and many do NOW, an internal compass that guided him on most things. Polls he abhored, and ignored.

Today, polls are everything. Candidates are so aware of the camera, and the pseudo-message it sends, that they are not what they appear to be. So we seek the real person, the one who would be president, and come up short-handed. Those with that "internal compass" don't seem to bother to run.

Too many people bank heavily on what are referred to as "policies" of the candidates. Policy positions are nothing more than vague promises, totally useless if the core character of the candidate is not known. We are sold packages of images, which is a far cry from what we get AFTER an election.

This may be an old refrain, but it does not serve the republic well when the greater good of the nation is forsaken in order to provide relief for numerous complaints. Said complaints having been institutionalized through organizations whose focus is extremely narrow. And in many cases damaging to the republic, and what is stands for. Or used to, anyway.

Back in the days when Lyndon Johnson promised that he would not send "our boys ten thousand miles to do the fighting that Asian boys should be doing".....back when American boys were dying doing exactly THAT....the nightly news itself became semantic fatigue. If memory serves correctly, every Thursday evening Walter Cronkite would list the number of helicopters shot down that week. And of course the numbers of men killed.

After several years of this people lost sight of any real goals; they just wanted it to end. I mustn't forget the thousands of young men at the time who were all for the war but just couldn't get around to enlisting because of deferments of various sorts. Such types are always in favor of war....it's the image they cherish of hardbitten warriors bound helplessly to a chair somewhere.

Indeed, President Bush is passing on a mess to his successor. In 2008 any candidate running against Bush is a total waste of a vote. We all KNOW what Bush is leaving us; we need to see clarity in direction, not a re-arranging of chairs at the exclusive "club of rulers."

Having done away with the "evil" of old-timed "city bosses" who controlled conventions and greatly influenced elections, the election system has devolved into a contest for the attention of those with the advertising money. Nothing beats that "image thing."

The number of people who actually call the shots in presidential elections can be fit into the end zone seats of a small high school stadium, with room to spare. The candidates are not debating each other, but rather jumping for the attention of that end zone.

All us peons are asked to do is crown the king/queen on election day.

It's quite fatiguing.
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Cross-posted at Michaellinnjones.com

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Tom said...

I've definitely got "candidate fatigue"...I've tried to put polls out of my mind and determine which candidate I really like best...and I can't. I'm tired of all of them.

5:09 PM  

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